The duties of personal representatives in Lombard require you to maintain an estate, identifying and paying creditors, and a myriad of other legal requirements. All these tasks could understandably feel overwhelming. For help administering an estate, speak to a trusted estate administration lawyer for the help you need.

The Duties of Personal Representatives When Administering Estates in Lombard

The duties of a personal representative are many when administrating an estate. First and foremost, they have a duty to marshal the assets. Generally, it is recommended that the representative-client opens a bank account at a bank of their choice. This bank account would be in the name of the estate and would use a tax ID number. It is something that our office assists with. The representative needs to obtain a separate tax ID number for the estate.

If it is not opened using the decedent’s Social Security number, it is not opened using the executor’s Social Security number. It is assigned a new tax ID. One of the first things that the representative needs to do is obtain that new tax ID. Then, they could proceed to use their letters of office to close bank accounts, make claims for life insurance if necessary, transfer stocks, liquidate vehicles and things like that, liquidate real property if necessary, and use the estate checking account as a marshalling point for all the assets.

Not only does a representative have a duty to distribute the decedent’s office to those who are entitled to it, either through a will or through Illinois’ intestacy statute, but they also have a duty to the decedent’s creditors. In Illinois, the representative needs to publish for claims. It is a six-month claims period during which creditors are allowed to file claims against the estate, and the representative needs to identify whether or not there are any known creditors.

Identifying Potential Creditors

They have the responsibility to go through the decedent’s mail, go through their bills, identify who the decedent might owe money to, and send them notice of the estate process. This is in addition to the publication that all representatives need to accomplish. This establishes a time period in which all the debts and claims could be filed against the estate. The administrator, as the claims come in, has the duty to assess and decide whether or not a claim is allowed or is disallowed.

If a claim is allowed, this it could be medical bills or final utilities on a real property. It could be rent under a contract or any other type of debt. If an administrator decides to allow the claim, the administrator would make that disbursement. Generally, it is recommended to not pay claims to legally-enforceable creditors until the expiration of the claims period. This is because in Illinois claims have a class associated with them in which a representative has the duty to pay higher-priority claims first.

It is impossible to know whether or not there would be a claim for a higher priority or multiple claims for a single priority that need to be distributed pro rata. An administrator would not know this until the end of that claim period. But it is important to recognize that although a representative is usually a family member, a beneficiary under the will, a lot of times the client would be that representative and have an interest in maximizing their share of the estate.

However, a personal representative not only has a duty to the beneficiary, such as a child or their other brothers and sisters, to get them as much money as possible, they also have a duty to the estate’s creditors. Part of the probate process is paying assets to beneficiaries as well as paying assets to bona fide creditors.

Filing Tax Returns

In addition to that duty, the personal representative has a duty to file tax returns. Generally, they are required to file a tax return for the final year the decedent was alive. They also have to file tax returns for the estate since the estate has a separate tax ID number for successive years going forward as long as the estate is open. Generally, any knowledgeable CPA would be able to assist with the filing of the estate tax returns and the decedent’s final tax returns.

Maintaining Estate Property

Other than paying debts, a representative also has a duty to maintain estate property. Generally, this means maintaining real estate, like paying utilities, taxes, and insurance. One of the important things looked for is real property in the estate and whether or not that property is vacant. If it is vacant, then the representative would need to obtain special vacancy insurance. Even though it could be expensive, until a real estate is sold, it is paramount that it be insured. For example, if there was a fire at the property and there was no insurance, the representative could be found personally liable for failing to obtain insurance.

The largest part of maintaining estate assets usually deals with paying for the various caring costs associated with real property. This could also include mundane minutiae, such as making sure that the lawn is cut at the property, so whatever village the property is in does not assess the estate with fines. Then, the representative needs to facilitate the distribution of the assets to the beneficiaries. That is done either in accordance with the will or in accordance with Illinois’ intestacy statute.

Speak to a Lawyer for More Help and Information

If you have been selected as an estate representative/administrator, then you need to be aware of your legal duties as a personal representative in Lombard. If you are unsure as to what is expected of you, reaching out to a lawyer could yield important information. Contact an attorney today.